MDZ – Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Darmstadt
Within the framework of the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Darmstadt (MDZ), the Mittelstand Competence Center MiT 4.0 has been continued since September 1, 2021. The focus of the project is to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) from the areas of production and trade in questions related to digitization. In addition to workshops, expert discussions and on-site events on real production systems, individual digitization solutions are also implemented in the form of specific projects.
Due to the increasing amount of data in combination with increasing computing power, methods for knowledge discovery from process data by means of artificial intelligence applications within the framework of Industry 4.0 have developed into a key technology in German SME. From the companies’ point of view, this data-based knowledge offers the potential to improve processes and to increase product quality and flexibility. Despite the resulting economic and technological advantages, there is a discrepancy between the expectations and the actual application of this technology in SME. The Scientific Society for Production Technology identifies the lack of know-how among specialist personnel and the absence of a methodical approach to implementing digitization applications as the biggest obstacles in practice
For this reason, the MDZ has set the goal of advising SME on all aspects of digitization, building up expertise in this area and providing support for specific digitization projects.
The aim of the competence center is to combine digitized production with artificial intelligence methods and to transfer this knowledge to economy. On the one hand, the potential of such digitization solutions is to be demonstrated, and on the other hand, it is intended to contribute to the acquisition of know-how and new specialist skills within companies. To this end, findings from current research projects are communicated first-hand to SME in an industry-oriented environment. Above all, topics from the following areas will be addressed, prepared for companies and communicated to a broad audience in practical workshops or implementation projects:
- Networked process chains – Horizontal networking of data beyond process boundaries for detailed description of machine, tool or component status.
- Potential of data – Acquisition of valid data sets under consideration of industrial boundary conditions, robust measurement chains and qualified sensor technology.
- Machine Learning – Systematic knowledge generation from process data using machine learning methods as the basis for data-driven condition assessment.
In order to be able to address the variety of challenges that companies face in the area of digitization, the MDZ can draw on a broad range of expertise. Therefore, in addition to the Institute of Production Technology and Forming Machines, six other partners from science and practice are involved, bundling their expertise on digitization and Industry 4.0 topics (Figure 1). In order to bring regional SME closer to digitization, initial information on this complex of topics will be provided through specialist presentations and demonstrators based on completed and ongoing research projects. In addition, competence in the field of digitization acquired through continuing education events is to be deepened and promoted in workshops. Finally, possible digitization applications are to be identified and implemented in customized Industry 4.0 solutions in the context of on-site expert discussions.
A total of seven partners from science and practice are involved in the SME 4.0 project of the Competence Center in Darmstadt, pooling their expertise on digitization and Industry 4.0 topics in the MDZ.
The results of this research project were achieved within the framework of the funding measure “Mittelstand 4.0 – Digitale Produktions- und Arbeitsprozesse“ provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWi) within the funded project ”Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Darmstadt".